ConTemporal

This weekend my husband, Jacob, and I will be heading to Raleigh, NC to attend and photograph ConTemporal. It’s gonna be tons of nerdy fun! The events include, British Tea Service, ConSociology “Interacting With Humans”, Kilt Etiquette and How To Fight With A Knife. (These are the events I am most excited about, but there are so many more that I didn’t mention. Check out the full programming list on ConTemporal’s website.)

Here’s a photo we took at ConCarolinas. I will be posting many more like this when we get back on Monday!

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Don’t Fu…er… Mess With Tywin Lannister – A New Mug Design

I was recently inspired by my job shooting with George R.R. Martin to make a mug based on Tywin Lannister. As GRRM left the Q&A session at ConCarolinas, he shouted out, “Don’t fuck with Tywin Lannister!” Everyone went crazy! So, I thought, that’s a perfect idea for one of my mugs. Here is a photo, and you can buy the mug on my Etsy Shop.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Extra

This is from a recent photo shoot I did. It was difficult to take photos in a room with mirrors on 3 walls without getting myself in the image. I edited me out on the finished product, but I did this one just for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

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Regarding SEO Tricksters

I am not a business expert. In fact, most of the time I feel like I’m lost in the woods. (Thank goodness my accountant husband has a level head.)  I didn’t go to school for anything business related, though I wish I had. Who knows in their early 20’s that art school won’t pay the bills? So I’m trying to educate myself now that I’m all grown up and have started my own business. (This is thanks to my husband. Without him, I would have continued to give my art and talent away for free.)

We started our photography business with a professional camera and a dream, but no money in the bank. So I had to learn as much as I could, and save money by doing things for myself. I created our logo, built our website, designed our business cards and advertisements. But what good are all of these things if no one knows you exist?

From the very beginning I was thinking about ways to get our name out there. And speaking of our name, that was a strategic decision based on Google searches. Our last name is Young, and my super smart, but very cheesy husband wanted us to be Forever Young Photography. I Googled that name and found that my husband isn’t the only sappy person with that business name idea. There are thousands of businesses called Forever Young Something-Or-Other. Thank goodness I had a legitimate reason to veto that dreadful name. (Love you sweetie!) I started thinking of ways to play on the word Young. How about Youth? Then I thought about what kind of business we wanted to be. My husband always calls me a rebel. On our third date, I made him hold my shoes while I climbed into a fountain to retrieve quarters so I could do my laundry. (Don’t judge. Remember, I was a broke artist.) I’m also drawn to the marginalized and unusual in our society. And so…Rebel Youth. I Googled that and got some coffee table photography book from the 1960’s. Woohoo! We had a winner! Not only did it incorporate our last name, it also represented who we wanted to be as a company and it wasn’t already used by anyone else.

Now, I just had to learn how to get this awesome name out there. So, of course, I Googled it. That’s when I started learning about Search Engine Optimization. I read everything I could find. How-to’s, how-not-to’s, link backs, and so on. I’m not an expert, but I did learn a lot. And here is where we come to the point of this post. I want to share with you the most important thing I’ve learned. It is this:

You do not need to pay for someone to run your SEO for you. All you need is some knowledge and a little patience. 

We started out small. We ran an ad through Google Adwords and worked out a deal to run an ad in a newspaper we work for. We started networking through business associations and friends and family. I blogged about our photo shoots and provided links back to any company or person we worked with. We began a Facebook page. I spent hours filling in the Meta Data for each of our photo shoots.

All of these strategies have worked…except the ads. The only thing we’ve gotten from the ads are phone calls from other people trying to sell us their services. People call us to run ads in their newspaper or magazine. They call to say they are the best tax attorney/financial planner/life coach/snake oil salesman in the country and we’d be stupid not to give them money.

But the worst, the absolute worst, out of all the cold calls we receive, are the people offering help with SEO. We get at least two calls a week from these wankers. This is how the conversation goes:

SEO Wanker: Hello! Is this Rebel Youth Photography?

Me: Yes.

SEO Wanker: Hello! This is Mumble-Mumble Blah-Blah-Blah! I’m calling from Some Bogus Company! We are partners with Google, and we offer guaranteed listing on the front page of Google. We currently show that thousands of people are searching for services like yours in your area. And right now, your company is showing up on the 20th page of Google.

Me:  Ok. Listen. I’m the person…

SEO Wanker: We can offer you the top spot on the front page of Google…

Me: No. Listen. I’m the person that handles all of our SEO…

SEO Wanker: Oh really?! Wow! We guarantee…

Me: Seriously! You need to listen to me! I do not need your help! I know for a fact…

SEO Wanker: With our services…

Me: NO! Listen up!!! I know for a fact that you are not affiliated in any way with Google. Google DOES NOT make cold calls from India. I do not need your help! I’m doing….

SEO Wanker: With our services you are guaranteed…

Me: Stop reading from your script for a minute and be a human being! I am doing everything your company is offering. But I’m not doing it in a dirty, underhanded way that will get my website blacklisted from Google. Now say goodbye before I’m forced to hang up on you!

SEO Wanker: With our services…

Me: Seriously?!? You’re going to make me be an asshole? I said, NO THANK YOU! Please don’t make me hang up on you!

SEO Wanker: With our services…

Me: Click…

Me: FUMING!!!!!!

I’m fairly even tempered. I hate to get raging mad because it takes me forever to calm down. And it messes with my inner peace. But these ass clowns ensure that twice a week I will become an infuriated lunatic, stomping around my house, cursing under my breath.

I really wish I had more followers so I could get this message out to more people. You DO NOT need these people! They will take your money and could cause more harm than good. Their tactics are shady, and they have nothing to do with Google. The best way to increase your SEO is by working hard. It takes time, though. You might be sitting in your office/house praying that some one will want to hire you soon before you’re forced to live in a van down by the river, but these tricksters are not the answer.

Here are some links I’ve found useful:

Search Engine Land

Moz Blog

 

Invitations by Tammy

I just finished editing and posting the images from the photo shoot I did with Tammy in Greensboro, NC on Wednesday. I’m so excited about how well they turned out!!! I’m posting some samples here, but to view all of them, please click HERE. (Also, check out her website HERE!)

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Fitness shoot in New Bern, NC

On Tuesday, I drove 5 hours to New Bern, NC to work with Evin and Steven at Gold’s Gym. On the way there and back I listened to a whole audiobook, and I only got lost a couple of times. Here’s some photos from the shoot. (To see all of them, please click HERE.)

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